OG VMA: The First Decade

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Poison Rocks Out with Their Hair Out

By Alyssa Giannone


So everyone's heard the phrase, "The original is way better than the sequel." Could the same be said for the MTV Video Music Awards? Since 1984, there have been tons of unbelievable outfits, jaw-dropping performances and iconic pop culture moments that will never be forgotten. But do recent ceremonies even hold up to those first 10 years? 

What even were the 1980s?

The 80s were a wasteland of leather and fishnets and bad haircuts, but there's no doubt that the entertainment was too good. It still begs the questions: "What are these outfits?" "Who do these people think they are?" "Was everyone just trying to be ironic?"

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Cyndi Lauper shows off her award, 1984
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Will Smith & DJ Jazzy Jeff pose, 1988
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Cher wears an interesting outfit, 1984
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Z.Z. Top hanging out with Diana Ross, 1984
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The Eurythmics backstage, 1985
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Madonna performs at the first ever Video Music Awards, 1984

and then the early 1990s came along...

Just when we thought the world wasn't going to get any weirder, the 90s happened. It was an angsty time when everyone was just a teenager and nobody listened to their parents, especially those in the music industry. The performances got wackier and the music somehow got louder. And the questions we asked were: "Is this art or are they just crazy?" "Why are these children running around unsupervised?" "Now is everyone being ironic?"

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Sinead O'Connor performs, 1990
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Billy Idol shows off his idol, 1990
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Howard Stern as Fatman, 1992
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R.E.M. wins, 1991
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Kurt Cobain and Flea saying hi, 1992
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Snoop Dogg performs at the VMAs, 1994

But now that those days are over, and the VMA has gotten its feet cemented in the way things progress, are we bored? Do these philosophical questions we used to ask about American culture even come to our minds anymore? Or are we just living in perpetual nostalgia, waiting to go back to a day when Dave Grohl and Tony Bennet hung out, or Madonna performed every single year and you were always surprised even though you knew it was coming? 


Even though the Glory Days are gone, they are never forgotten. And who knows? Maybe the first 10 years get their own place in history as something that can never repeat itself again, not because it wasn't entertaining, but because... What was really going on back then?


These pictures are available for license.

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